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Ivinghoe (Leighton Buzzard)

Locality
Coordinates 51.853055555556, -0.61666666666667
Adm. div. Buckinghamshire
Vicinity c. 9.5 km SSE of Leighton Buzzard
Type Settlement
Interest Miscellaneous
Status Extant
First Record 1820
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Irvinghoe.
Ivinghoe / Matthew Winn, via Panoramio.
Irvinghoe / Google Maps Street View.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2016-12-12. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-12.

The name of the village of Ivinghoe, roughly 10 km south of Leighton Buzzard, is believed to have been the inspiration for the title and the name of the eponymous hero of Walter Scott's Ivanhoe (1820). This, easily Scott's most famous novel, is probably the most widely known and most influential historical novel ever published. Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and the other outlaws are important subsidiary characters and allies of the hero of the novel. It is probably fair to say that in terms of significance to the Robin Hood tradition it is rivalled only by the Gest of Robyn Hode and Howard Pyle's Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

The place-name 'Ivinghoe' is first recorded in Domesday Book (1086), in the form "Evinghehou",[1] from OE Ifinga-hō(g)e, "the hoh ['projecting ridge of land, a promontory'[2]] of Ifa's people". Allen Mawer notes that Ivinghoe is located "at the base of a considerable spur of land jutting out from the main range of the Chilterns".[3]

The following passage from Mawer is worth quoting in full:

The curious way in which Scott, who is always thought (and probably rightly so) deliberately to have altered Ivinghoe to Ivanhoe, actually hit upon one identical with a form found in documentary evidence in the 17th cent. (not then published) is worthy of note. The coincidence is the more remarkable seeing that an for ing is without parallel in other p[lace].n[ames].[4]

The only known occurrence of the place-name in the form 'Ivanhoe' is found in the Hertfordshire county sessions records for 1665, which had not been published when Scott wrote the novel.[5] He was a man of antiquarian tastes and interests; could he have come across the village name in the form 'Ivanhoe' in some historical work?

Related place-names include Ivinghoe Aston, Ivinghoe Common, and Ivinghoe Hills[6]

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